Pushing For the Arts - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Pushing For the Arts

Updated: April 1, 2013 06:51 PM CDT
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School music programs have been cutting teachers across the QCA.

We've seen it in West Carroll and Rock Ridge.

But one school district has decided to commit to the arts - hiring more teachers to teach a growing number of interested students.

At Pleasant Valley High School - a record number of students are signing up for choir  and that has forced the district to find more ways to teach them.

And that means hiring a new teacher - costing nearly $70k/ year in salary and benefits.

But at Pleasant Valley - they say it's worth it - committing to teaching kids outside of the normal classroom setting.

"Over the years - we've expanded to the point where we have four curricular choirs and three extra curricular jazz choirs outside the school day." says PV High Vocal Director, Meg Byrne

Byrne started 18 years - with just two choirs. 

But now - another teacher is needed for a district that is seeing more and more kids getting involved in choir.

In the last two years - number have risen in the choirs nearly 15% - at just the high school level. 

But the interest - Byrne says - starts much earlier than that. 

They've added a 6th grade choir. And starting in Junior High - every choir student is given one on one lessons every week.

"It's a classroom unlike any other in the school," says Byrne. "It's structured differently and a lot of kids respond to that really positively."

Many of the programs that have lost parts of their music programs near the QCA are in Illinois - where school are being told they will only be getting around 82% of the funding they are supposed to get from the state.

That means tough choices on what gets funded - and what doesn't.

And while funding isn't going down in Iowa, it's not going up. Something student aren't taking for granted.

"It's cool to know that something I like to do personally is expanding," says Freshman Aiden Baily. "It's getting better - not worse."

"It helps us grow as people and our talents as well," says Sophomore signer Claire Swanson.

Claire says she feel fortunate to be in a district that allows her to display her talents- when students in other districts aren't getting that chance.

"Singing give me a break from my classes and just letting it out and doing that is something I absolutely love."

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